According to research from Yelp, an additional star on a companies online rating equates to an additional 5-9 percent in revenue.
You may also wish to consider that recent studies have indicated that 90% of customers read online reviews before even visiting a business, with online reviews accounting for over two thirds of purchasing decisions.
Despite these eye-opening stats, it seems many brands still aren’t focussing on reputation management as part of their digital marketing strategies. The reality however is that it can be fairly easy to look after your reputation management.
Where to start with reputation management
There are a number of areas you will want to consider as part of your online reputation management strategy, however the below examples should provide a good starting point;
Google (and other relative search engines)
The first place to look should always be on the key search engines. Perform a simple brand search on Google for example and look at the results that come up on the first couple of pages. You will normally expect to see your own website, social media links and perhaps a couple of news articles. Assuming these results are all positive, or at the very least neutral then you have nothing to worry about. Just ensure you continue to perform regular searches, and perhaps look at setting up Google alerts to monitor for new mentions.
Given one negative article on the first page of results can cause a 22 percent drop in business, and three negative articles can cause almost a 60 percent drop, then any hint of negativity needs dealing with swiftly.
The next step is to perform an audit of your social media accounts to better understand if and how customers and other users perceive your brand online. Look through your mentions, and search for your brand name (not everyone tags you) across your key social channels, potentially implementing a sentiment analysis tool to understand whether the overall feeling is positive, negative or neutral.
Ensure you properly analyse the results, and use the data to better interact with customers online and to influence your strategy moving forwards. You may also again wish to set up alerts to ensure your team are monitoring future mentions.
As part of any online brand reputation review, it is also vital to ensure that you are not only registered with the relevant review sites for your industry, but that you have also claimed the relevant accounts. In this way, you are able to not only see the reviews being left about your business, but to respond to them via official channels.
Again, assuming the reviews are all largely positive (one or two negative responses are inevitable), then this is a case of monitoring ongoing reviews and responding accordingly. If however you find your rating dropping below the 4* mark then you may need to act to try and ensure you start seeing an influx of new positive reviews.
Why bother with reputation management?
The loss of potential business as highlighted at the beginning of this article is obviously the key reason for working on your brand’s reputation management, there are a number of other reasons why you may wish to focus resource on this part of your business;
Keeping up appearances
Social media allows customers to engage with brands in ways never before seen. A single tweet can end up reaching millions of your potential customers, so it’s important to ensure that those engagements are of the positive rather than negative nature.
At least if you have a comprehensive reputation management programme in place you can quickly respond to negative posts and ensure they are dealt with swiftly to help avoid complaints being picked up by a wider audience.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that everyone from prospective employees to suppliers and investors will likely be looking up your company before engaging with you. It is therefore vital to ensure that the image they see of your business is largely positive, or there is a risk of other key relationships falling through.
Understanding your audience
Whilst online engagements with customers have the potential to go wrong, they also provide an incredible opportunity for those brands who are actively working on their reputation management. By actually listening to your customers, there is a fantastic opportunity to develop products and services that they actually want and need.
Imagine being able to understand the new products your audience are desperately after, or finding the pain points in the ordering process. By focussing on reputation management, brands have a huge opportunity to increase their customers online spend.
Saving time and money
Having an extensive customer service team who have to regularly deal with customer complaints can be a costly and time consuming process. However, if your business has employed a comprehensive reputation management strategy, then you have the opportunity to deal with issues before they arise, and therefore reduce the need to pour resources into your CS department.
Not only this, but many customers now prefer to use digital channels to communicate with brands rather than picking up the phone. Ensuring that these channels are easily accessible for tech savvy customers is likely to increase brand loyalty, and ensure that your team can deal with any queries in a timely manner.